Erie Dog Bite Injury Attorney
If a dog bites someone in Pennsylvania, the owner will almost always have to pay for the victim’s medical bills. In cases involving negligent or careless control of a dog the state has deemed “vicious,” other awards and penalties may be in order. Understanding Pennsylvania’s dog bite laws is the first step in seeking compensation for your damages as an attack victim. The lawyers at Dallas W. Hartman P.C. can help you understand the law and use it to your advantage after a harmful dog attack in Erie.
Two Dog Bite Rules: Strict Liability and Negligence
Pennsylvania has a limited version of the “strict liability” dog bite law you’ll find in many other states. Strict liability means the dog’s owner will have to pay for the victim’s damages regardless of whether the owner was negligent in controlling the animal. In Erie, Pennsylvania, this rule holds true – but only for the victim’s medical bills. The owner will not bear strict liability for the victim’s lost wages, physical pain, emotional suffering, or property damage losses. To seek compensation for all losses, a victim will have to prove the dog owner’s negligence.
The way to pursue full damage recovery for a dog attack is through a negligence-based claim against the owner. Suing the animal’s owner for negligence involves proving that he or she was unreasonably careless in the keeping or controlling of the pet. What is “unreasonable” depends on what a reasonable and prudent dog owner would have done in the same situation. If a pet owner knew of his or her dog’s tendencies for viciousness, for example, the owner would have to take steps to prevent an attack, such as put up a fence. Failure to do so, resulting in an attack, would likely be enough to prove the owner’s negligence.
The two burdens of proof a dog bite victim has in a negligence-based claim are 1) the owner knew the dog was or could be dangerous, and 2) the owner neglected to control the dog properly. This is not the same as one-bite rules in which the owner is only negligent if the animal bit someone in the past. In Pennsylvania, a single bite doesn’t automatically make a dog vicious. At the same time, a dog can show tendencies for viciousness without actually biting someone. The qualifications for viciousness will depend on the situation.
How Our Lawyers Can Help
Dog owners in Erie County may have a few potential defenses they can use in a case involving a dog attack. The dog owner can allege that the victim was partially to blame for the injury, from instigating the attack, annoying the animal, or trespassing. As a victim, it is your job to prove to the courts that you were at least 50% or less to blame for the attack. Based on Pennsylvania’s modified comparative negligence rule, a plaintiff must be less than 51% at fault to qualify for compensation. A good lawyer can be a great asset in proving fault.
Erie Dog Bite Attorneys – Free Consultations!
Dog attacks can be extremely violent and even fatal. Definitely retain an attorney if you have sustained particularly painful injuries, permanent scarring or disfigurement, or serious psychological trauma from a dog attack. Even if your attack wasn’t life-threatening, you deserve compensation from the at-fault owner. If you have to go up against a dog owner in pursuit of compensation for your medical bills or other damages, talk to an Erie personal injury attorney first. Contact our firm for a free consultation about your case.